Creating ART from 3D Printed Ovaries

It is remarkable to me how quickly in vitro fertilization has gone from an experimental, controversial and prohibitively expensive procedure to becoming a mainstream option for those struggling with fertility issues. What was unheard of in my parents’ generation is nothing extraordinary among my friends who are having children.

My personal observations are supported by the CDC, which reported that 1.6% of all infants born in the U.S. in 2015 were the result of assisted reproductive technology (ART). This is a 33% increase since 2006, which can be attributed to rapid advances and refinements of the various technologies available to those seeking reproductive assistance.

It challenges the mind to imagine what reproductive technologies might be widespread when my children and their friends are adults. When experts speculate about the future of human reproduction, there always seems to be a lot of focus on provocative scenarios that portend a dystopian future, such as designer babies. What gets lost are some of the more general scientific advances that are being applied to ART in fascinating ways.

While improvements in reproductive technologies serve many, one group that remains underserved are pediatric cancer patients. As a result of treatment, these patients are often faced with impaired ovarian function that can prevent puberty and result in infertility. In vitro fertilization and ovarian transplants are currently used, but do not provide lasting solutions for all individuals.

In response to this need, researchers are working to develop an organ replacement that can provide long-term hormone function and fertility for all patients.  A recent study in Nature Communications presented encouraging results in mice using bioprosthetic ovaries that may further revolutionize the field of ART. Continue reading “Creating ART from 3D Printed Ovaries”

What’s Art Got to Do with It?

While some may see the Art Showcase that Promega has sponsored for the past 20 years as tangential to the mission of the biotechnology company, these quarterly exhibits of local and global artists contribute to Promega’s commitment to creativity and innovation in the arts, culture and sciences. The exhibits also foster connections between members of the community that probably would not otherwise exist.

Promega President and CEO Bill Linton with Daniel Swadener, curator of the Promega Art Showcase, at the 2016 Fall Art Showcase Opening and Symposium.
Promega President and CEO Bill Linton with Daniel Swadener, curator of the Promega Art Showcase, at the 2016 Fall Art Showcase Opening and Symposium.

It is obvious how the show serves to advance the arts and culture, but its relationship to science is less clear. Based on my experience attending the symposium and viewing the artwork, the science at Promega benefits from this endeavor as well.

Let me begin by describing the work included in this fall’s Art Showcase, “Wis-Con-Sin.” This exhibit features three centuries of Wisconsin photographers that each created life-long photographic projects based in Wisconsin:

  • Charles Van Schaick (1852-1946) was a studio photographer in Black River Falls, WI who left behind nearly 6,000 glass plate negatives of mostly studio portraits (which have been featured in two books, Wisconsin Death Trip and People of the Big Voice), as well as street scenes, major events in the region, outdoor family and group photos, buildings, picnics, people and livestock.
  • Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910 – 1983) was a self-taught artist who created several thousand works including apocalyptic oil paintings, ceramic crowns and vessels, and photographs that he and his wife Marie collaborated on, staging her in provocative poses and costumes.
  • J. Shimon & J. Lindemann collaborated as artists since 1983, focusing on rural Wisconsin towns where they both grew up and using antiquarian cameras and printing techniques to record post-industrial settings, rural landscapes, small towns, and shifting modes of life.

Continue reading “What’s Art Got to Do with It?”

Analog is the new digital?

Photo credit: Niklas Roy https://picasaweb.google.com/116020019668259353077/CardboardComputerWorkshopAtHfGOffenbach#5847047713177417682
Playing “Speedway PRO 1000 at the Cardboard Computer Workshop” Photo credit: Niklas Roy
There are few areas of human endeavor as rife with error and retrospective hilarity as futurology, the dark art of predicting technological trends. So instead of trying my hand at proclaiming a new direction in human computer interactions, I thought I’d simply report on a couple of projects at the intersection of art and computing that caught my attention at the Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis, a visualization conference held there this past June. Perhaps there’s something more here than separate data points, but I’ll leave that inference up to the reader. Continue reading “Analog is the new digital?”

The Stuff of Life: A genetics course in a comic book

Copyright by Mark Schultz, Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon from “The Stuff of Life” (2009)

A few years back, when my wife and I were moonlighting as amateur comic artists, we would set up our table at local comic conventions. At one of these, we found ourselves sitting not too far from a charming comic artist by the name of Zander Cannon. His black-and-white artwork was gorgeous to behold. But what really drew us to him was a modest hardbound book on his table, entitled The Stuff of Life: A graphic guide to genetics and DNA that he co-illustrated with Kevin Cannon and whose script was written by Mark Schultz. It turns out that illustrating educational comics is one of Zander’s true passions. Of course, we bought our own copy. Continue reading “The Stuff of Life: A genetics course in a comic book”

Science in the Service of Art

Three artists who use science as their starting point.

Galapagos Rice-Rat from 'The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle'. This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923.
Galapagos Rice-Rat from ‘The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle’ This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923.

My recent blog conversation (blogversation?) with Michele about the book The Where, The Why and The How stirred me up to think some more about the topic of science-flavored art. That book was full of delightful examples of artists using science as their inspiration; however no matter the topic or style of art, the illustrations never strayed from _illustrating_ the science they referenced. Some were more fanciful than others, but none questioned their basic intent.

Now, in literature there’s an entire genre dedicated to “science flavored” writing that ultimately doesn’t serve to illustrate any actual science concepts. I’m speaking of Science Fiction, of course, and while some early entries in the SF canon erred on the side of scientific accuracy, later practitioners of the genre took great liberties with the science, always ensuring that it served their literary goal and not vice versa. I was raised on a steady diet of Stanisław Lem books, and probably as a result tend not to demand much realism from my fiction.

On thinking about it, I’m rather surprised that the same is in general not true of art. Continue reading “Science in the Service of Art”

Speeding Things Up: Time-Lapse Photography

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fYTctvTCGg]Art can take many forms—works of art can be soothing, fun, thought-provoking and controversial (some people might even say offensive). If you ask 100 people to define art, I suspect you’ll get 100 different definitions. My definition? Well, I am a logical creature by nature with little interest or talent for expressing myself through colors and shapes, so my definition of art has always been: If I can do it, it’s not art. However, there is one possible exception to that statement: photography. When time permits, I enjoy taking my camera out and photographing ordinary but beautiful things that many people see on a daily basis but don’t often stop to appreciate. My favorite subjects include colorful insects and plants.
Continue reading “Speeding Things Up: Time-Lapse Photography”